Authorities are hunting for a Mesa man believed to be part of a gun-purchasing ring of East Valley men accused of selling firearms to a violent Mexican drug cartel. Many in the ring were arrested during raids in December on residences throughout Mesa and Gilbert.
Michael Lawrence Moreno, 23, was last seen in December and is wanted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives on suspicion of federal firearms violations, according to Thomas Mangan, spokesman for the ATF.
Mangan told the Tribune on Friday that 112 firearms were confiscated during the raids, and the men are accused of being involved in a "lying and buying," which are known as straw purchasers for buying guns for people not eligible to buy them, Mangan said.
Of the 10 men arrested on suspicion of federal firearms violations, seven were from Mesa, one was from Gilbert, one from Tempe and one from Douglas, according to Mangan. They all were charged on federal firearms violations on Feb. 11 after a federal grand jury handed down a 68-count indictment, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
The men have been released from custody, but are on home arrest under intensive supervision and are required to wear electronic monitoring devices, Mangan said.
Jesus Madrena of Mesa, who was facing federal firearms violations charges, already was jailed in a Maricopa County jail on unrelated charges, according to Mangan.